Photo By Aleera (flickr.com)

Perhaps secrets don’t work in my family. Perhaps my older sister (M) asked directly and my mother didn’t want to lie.

When I came out atheist to my mother in October we agreed that I’d be the one to tell my siblings; I didn’t want her to feel obligated to be my secret keeper or play defense for me. So when my mother called me last night to chat, she admitted that during a conversation about me, she told M that I was an atheist.

I can only imagine what sorts of things they discussed that would lead my mother to feel it was necessary to tell M about my deconversion. Did my recent politically charged discussion with M come up? Did my off-handed Facebook comment about “Fred Phelps and his god” ruffle some curious feathers? Was M concerned about my lack of morals and sex life? Perhaps they spoke about how distant Mom and I have been lately and Mom wanted to tell her why.

I know guessing and making things up in my mind won’t help me know the truth (hint, hint, Christians!), so I’ll stop there. Did it hurt that my mother didn’t let me tell M about being an atheist? I’m surprising myself when I answer: No, not at all, actually. More than anything else, it let me off the hook. I was putting off outsing myself  for “the perfect moment”—which of course would never come. So now that I don’t have to worry about how to say it, I can think forward to how I should present my thoughts and answers to M when she comes to me with questions. She might not; she might not want to tell me that she knows. We’ll just have to see.

Why am I so calm about this? I was filled with anxiety just a few months ago about how my family would react to my coming out. Maybe it’s the lack of reaction (since I wasn’t there) that keeps me feeling peaceful—as if it was a success already. Maybe it’s because I feel so much more confident in who I am and how being an atheist is not wrong. When I found myself feeling guilt or embarrassment about being an atheist, I was acting out of the lessons and patterns I was given as a Christian. I may finally be breaking free of that training… bit by bit.

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22 thoughts on “My Mother Outed Me”

Chaoticwhizz · April 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Hey. Hopefully, they don’t think it is just a phase you are going through and will eventually “come back to the light” or there is no weird intervention to save your “soul.” Hopefully, they are accepting about it. Thanks for sharing.
.-= Chaoticwhizz’s last blog ..Chaoticwhizz: @Ndiayne Hey, Have you updated Google Listen recently? Like Today? Doing that fixed the syncing issue for me. =-.

    Godless Girl · April 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Well, they might think that. They are Christians who believe in the typical salvation story. I’m just unsure if they’ll tell my brother or not. He’s the last one to know and the one with the most evangelical hellfire-and-brimstone point of view.

madness_dreams · April 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm

It’s awesome that you’re so calm about the whole thing. I wouldn’t be. I want to be there when my siblings find out, so that I can defend myself. I know that in the past my parents have said all kinds of untrue or misleading things about me to my siblings when they’re upset at me.

In fact, when I tell my family, I’ll probably tell my siblings before my parents. I think they’ll be a lot more reasonable.

    Godless Girl · April 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Not being able to defend myself does bother me, but I’ll get that chance later. No matter if I had been there or not, they still would’ve talked about it together without me.

David · April 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Two of my siblings, my uncle and my grandmother know I’m an atheist. I still dress like a Chassidic Jew, I have no idea how I’ll ever break it to my parents and friends that I no longer believe. Fuck.
.-= David’s last blog ..DaveLerner: Catholic Child Abuse: Please Leave The Jews Out Of It http://huff.to/bNwaaX =-.

    Godless Girl · April 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I’ve never met a Chassidic Jew, much less a former one. Pardon my forwardness, but I’d love to talk to you and learn some things sometime!

    What do your relatives think about your atheism? Would they be a help to you if you came out to your family?

David · April 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I’d love to answer any questions you have feel free to drop me a line any time.

Most of my family is not religious, my parents became Chassidim in the 70’s, got married and had us. The two siblings that know I’m an atheist don’t care as they are not very observant themselves.

It’s a long story how came not to blieve (Hitchens did help), but I’m kinda stuck here right now. And as I said earlier. Fuck
.-= David’s last blog ..DaveLerner: Catholic Child Abuse: Please Leave The Jews Out Of It http://huff.to/bNwaaX =-.

_7654_ · April 3, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Well, here you are GG, looking in front of you, and wondering, what would the perfect moment have been for your sister to know? It was the perfect moment. I am specially happy, that you feel confident in your steps, and that is what is really important. So keep shining, there is a new pair of eyes looking at you. Just keep shining.
All the best.
_7654_

    Godless Girl · April 5, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    What sweet words. Who knows how it will turn out!

Guy · April 4, 2010 at 9:24 am

Good for you, you seem to be getting through it all pretty well (^o^). But I know it’s difficult. I remember being in your position years ago when I left Mormonism; I don’t envy you. The best thing you can do is trust that your family will accept you regardless of your differences of opinion—give them the benefit of the doubt that I hope they’ve earned. Good luck closing that closet door behind you!
.-= Guy’s last blog ..PODCAST: ASkegg =-.

    Godless Girl · April 5, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks so much, Guy. I hope I can retain the closeness I once had with my family in whatever form that occurs. It may look different, but then again we are different people now.

vjack · April 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

Glad to hear it seems to be going well so far. I can relate to the sense of relief you describe. Maintaining a secret takes more energy than we sometimes realize.

    Godless Girl · April 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    There is a sense of taking a deep breath and saying “Ah, fuck it.” It feels pretty good to just leave the rest up to chance and circumstance.

Lexia · April 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Hi. Got this link from “snigsfoot” and found it interesting so thought I would reply. Although I do not know your background it seems as though you have been brought up in a very religious family and are being very brave and honest to stand up for your beliefs against your loved ones. I was brought up in a strong Methodist family, my father being a lay preacher. I rebelled many times over my childhood and teenage years, “sampling” other religions and eventually coming to the clonclusion that I am atheist (but a bit of a coward to admit it whole heartedly to myself) Best wishes to you in your search for honesty. I admire anyone who does that regardless of the cost. Lexia

    Godless Girl · April 5, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for coming and commenting, Lexia. Have you come to a place yet where you feel confident and happy as an atheist?

Mike Brownstein · April 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm

This reminds me when I came out atheist to my family. Being from Judaism, news like this travels fast. My parents will sometimes tell people, because they think all I’m going to do is incite people (other Jewish individuals). They’ve told relatives that I didn’t want to tell, and it’s made things sometimes awkward with my family.
.-= Mike Brownstein’s last blog ..Mel Brooks Takes on Jesus =-.

    Godless Girl · April 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I’m so sorry they said things that you wanted kept private. That is one reason I’m glad I spoke about it explicitly to my mother when I told her. But now that my sister and her husband know too, it’s very near to the time when my most intimidating, outspoken, and strong-willed family member (my brother) knows and that’s when I expect to be uncomfortable. I almost wish my relatives knew so I could get over any moments of telling them and saying “No, I’m not angry at God. No, I’m not being rebellious. Yes, I’m happy. No, this is not a ‘phase’.”

Andrew · April 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

I can understand your feelings of wanting to keep people in the dark, it is easier to do nothing. My own coming out as atheist prompted a lot of negative comments from my family, but now I am so free! And after a few years have been able to mend fences.

I just want to say that by lying to your brother, you are sinning against yourself. What’s more important, his feelings or your being able to live in an honest, open way without cognitive dissonance?

Gonna be painful tho, I know how hurtful believers can be when they are saving the lost.

    Godless Girl · April 9, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you for your feedback on this. I think I’ll write a post in response!

Tweets that mention My Mother Outed Me | Godless Girl -- Topsy.com · April 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm

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GodlessGirl.com (that’s right, yet another great blog) « Matthew Van Temple · April 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

[…] me last night to chat, she admitted that during a conversation about me, she told M that I was an atheist.” […]

Am I Lying? | Godless Girl · April 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm

[…] left a thoughtful, interesting comment on my recent post about coming out to my family. I think it’s worth responding to at length, […]

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